Eggstraordinarily Easy Egg Salad

“But everybody knows how to make egg salad,” said Jerri when I told her what I planned for my next recipe.

The tubs in the deli case at the supermarket tell me different. I was sure that people were not too lazy to boil and chop some eggs and stir in a few dabs of seasoning and mayonnaise. They probably have been deterred by an egg salad recipe that was a bit complicated. Maybe it specified ingredients not in their refrigerators or pantries—quail eggs or black garlic, for instance.

I have nothing against using an unusual ingredient, which helps to explain why our spice rack has now been supplemented by a two shelf rotating rack in a cabinet plus the odd two dozen jars of various things in the pantry. (I really must throw some of them away, especially the ones missing their handwritten labels.)

Some of the dishes I cook require ingredients I once thought rare and mysterious. Pesto is an example, but I use it regularly today. I was sometimes intimidated by instructions as well. I really thought that taking thirty minutes to brown a roux was ridiculous and, furthermore, impossible for someone of my Germanic disposition, but I have learned patience. In the case of a roux I began by making a light brown roux that took only five minutes.

Learning to cook is like learning anything. One starts with a simple exercise and progresses from there. We began by learning how to add and subtract single digits (“Two plus one equals how many?”), to read and write by first learning the alphabet and to walk by taking “baby steps.”

Think of this recipe as a baby step to get you moving towards greater accomplishments in the kitchen. If you don’t have all of the ingredients, leave them out or substitute. You can use whipped salad dressing instead of mayonnaise and omit the celery, onion or relish if there is none in the house.

I guarantee that the result will be edible, and not just in the sense that “All things are edible, but some are edible only once.” Be brave and trust your taster. If you think a little mustard might improve the flavor, stir some in and taste the result. If you like it, fine. If not, you have learned not to do it again. You can still make those egg salad sandwiches in spite of the failed experiment. A little extra salt and pepper might help.

If you are a truly cautious person, start with a half batch. If you remember that a quarter cup equals four tablespoons and a third cup contains five and one-third tablespoons, the math is pretty simple.

6 large eggs
1/4 cup celery in 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. lemon juice


Put the eggs in a saucepan and cover them with cold water to about an inch above the eggs. Bring them to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for four minutes. Cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Let the eggs stand for nine or ten minutes.

Drain the hot water and slip the eggs into a bowl of ice water. Chill them for at least ten minutes. Putting hot eggs or vegetables into ice water is called shocking. Shocking boiled eggs makes them easier to peel. Peel the eggs under a thin stream of cold water and chop them into about a quarter-inch dice.

While the eggs are cooking, clean and dice the celery and mince the onion. Mix the vegetables and relish with the chopped eggs. Stir in the mayonnaise, salt, pepper and lemon juice. If the salad seems too dry, add a little more mayonnaise. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

NOTES: Almost everyone has a favorite recipe for egg salad so feel free to adjust this recipe when you make it. However, if you are new to making egg salad, follow the recipe pretty closely the first time.

You can use reconstituted lemon juice or even cider vinegar for egg salad, marinades, deviled eggs and many other dishes. If, however, a recipe on “Courage in the Kitchen” calls for fresh lemon juice, you really should buy a lemon.

Cream of Celery Chowder

“Why would anyone put hard-boiled eggs in soup?” asked Jerri as I put a bowl in front of her.

“First of all, it’s not soup. It’s chowder,” I answered, “and it was probably a Mennonite farmwife with lots of chickens.”

This recipe was inspired by one from the Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter, a cookbook I have referred to many times over the years. Since Jerri was born into a Mennonite family, one would think she would understand that if your chickens were laying, you had to use the eggs. This is a good way to get rid of a couple, or three, if you really like hard-boiled eggs.


3 cups chopped celery with the leaves
1 cup chopped potatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups water
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 large eggs
3 T butter
3 T all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
3 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp. celery salt
Dash of hot sauce
Freshly ground black pepper

Clean and chop the celery and potato into a half-inch dice. Clean and finely chop the onion. Put the vegetables into a three quart saucepan, cover them with about a cup and a half of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes.

Put the eggs into a small pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook the eggs for five minutes, remove from the heat and let the eggs continue cooking in the hot water for another eight minutes. Cool the eggs in ice water for a few minutes. Peel and chop them into a quarter to half-inch dice and set them aside in a small bowl.

Remove the vegetables from the heat. Make a roux. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add the flour, salt and white pepper and stir the mixture until it begins to bubble. Continue cooking the roux over low heat for two or three minutes, but be careful not to brown it. Add the milk to the roux, stirring constantly until it thickens and turns into a smooth sauce. Cook the sauce for another two or three minutes.

Stir the sauce into the vegetables and fold in the chopped eggs. Return the soup to the heat and stir in the hot sauce, celery salt and a grind or two of black pepper.

Bring the soup to a simmer, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve as a satisfying lunch or as a first course for dinner. With a sandwich it makes a good light supper.

NOTES: If you don’t have whole milk, mix a half cup of half and half with two and a half cups of reduced fat milk or add an extra tablespoon of butter to the soup. Whole milk gives you a velvety smooth soup.